La Grande All-Stars roster

No. Name

00 Brady Hutchins

1 Jace Schow

2 Logan Williams

5 Jarett Armstrong

8 Eli Bisenius

9 Griffin McIlmoil

14 Aiden Stanton

26 Cole Shafer

28 Noah McIlmoil

34 Alex Rodriguez

35 Cesar Rodriguez

38 Sam Tsiatsos

41 Kai Carson

45 Derek Begin

Manager: Doug Schow

Coach: Mitch Williams

Coach: Rich McIlmoil

Sam Tsiatsos isn’t sure he’s ever been on television in his life. That’s about to change for the pitcher and infielder and the rest of his La Grande All-Stars teammates when they begin play Monday at the Little League Northwest Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, California.

Each game, from Sunday’s opener to the championship on Aug. 12, will be live on either ESPN3 or ESPN, adding an exciting and somewhat scary element to the latest chapter of La Grande’s historic season.

“Especially playing baseball (on TV). That’s a little nerve racking, but you have to get used to it,” Tsiatsos said.

Playing on television, especially with a growing national audience the further the team advances in the tournament, is just one of the many changes upcoming for La Grande at regionals.

There’s the first time playing in Southern California. There’s adjusting to playing in a larger stadium. There’s what expects to be tougher competition.

So how is Manager Doug Schow helping prepare the team mentally for what lies ahead?

YouTube is part of the answer.

“One of the things that I’m having them do right now is every day I’m asking them to watch 45 minutes to an hour of Little League episodes on ESPN3 or YouTube — wherever they can find that stuff,” he said. “Just sit and watch games that have happened in years past, and especially games in San Bernardino, to look at the size of the grandstands, the cameras, the questions people are being asked. Just sit there and watch it. Take it all in. I’m hoping that will give them a little bit of an edge over everyone else just by watching it, learning from those experiences from the other kids.”

He’s also reminding his players that the other teams are just like they are.

“That’s the one question I get asked by the kids is, ‘How good are these teams going to be?’ They’re just like us,’” he said of his response. “They’re 12 years old. They play Little League baseball. They swing the bat, and they throw the ball just like (we) do.”

In fact, La Grande already has experience with one of the teams — or at least, a variation of one of the teams — Walla Walla Valley, the state champions from Washington.

Schow said a La Grande travel-ball team comprised of most of the current players played Walla Walla back in March, though they lost that day, 6-3. The teams met later in the season and La Grande earned a split, despite being down four regular starters, according to Schow.

See complete story in Friday's Observer